Saturday, 19 September 2009
She may be the beauty or the beast
May be the famine or the feast
May turn each day into a Heaven or a Hell
Me, I'll take the laughter and her tears
And make them all my souvenirs
For where she goes I've got to be
The meaning of my life is
She (Tous Les Visages de L'Amour) by Charles Aznavour and Herbert Kretzmer
Not sure what you would expect from that preface. It is not really relevant to this posting. I just love that song and tonight, after a couple of glasses of an exceptionally nice red vine, I was singing it at the top of my lungs, whilst cooking in the kitchen. My poor family. My poor neighbours.
We all know that a Chinese restaurant full of Chinese people is a good sign. I am talking about somewhere like London of course, not China.
But in London, that is a good sign. And my favourite dim-sum place-Royal China is one of those trusted and reliable places.
And whenever I go there, I never fail to notice just how well the Chinese children behave. OK, OK, calm down! I appreciate there must be some really badly behaved Chinese kids somewhere out there, but for some reason, the best behaved ones clearly visit my favourite restaurant, on the days I do.
Once, a long long time ago, in some other life of mine, when I thought I would rather have my ovaries surgically removed than breed, we arranged to meet a bunch of people for a relaxing lunch at Royal China.
In that other life, I used to be incredibly judgmental towards people with badly behaved kids. I just had no clue. So, that day, I looked at our friends with their small boy, who screamed and climbed on his father’s neck, whilst kicking and scratching, and thought: How could anyone, ever allows their child to behave like this?
If the parents of the boy bothered to glance around, they would have noticed that almost at every other table there were Chinese children of various ages. They sat there quietly, gripping their chop sticks, chewing and staring in horror at our friends’ possessed toddler.
Why is that, I thought to myself, that those kids are so well behaved? Is it a cultural thing? Do Chinese parents, even the ones who have been living in the UK all their lives, share some secret parenting skill, passed on from generation to generation, that makes their kids sit properly at the dinner table? That makes them respect the adults?
A director of a college told me once, that she felt she had no real power any longer. She said, a few years ago, she would have been able to walk up to a group of fighting students and they would have stopped and listened to her. Because she was the college director. Not anymore. These days, she says, they would tell her to F off.
Because they can.
Because, the truth is- in this country, there is absolutely nothing adults can, or would dare to do that kids would worry about.
And it starts when they are little. You are not supposed to tell them off too much. Don’t be too strict- that might limit their creativity. Don’t shout at them too loudly, don’t say NO too often…
Do not smack their bottom-even if that bottom deserves a good smack. And that is with your own children.
Imagine trying to be a teacher in the country where you have no power over your students.
I am not sure why I brought this up tonight. Maybe because my own child has started pushing the boundaries every single day.
Yes.-- I say to her.
Noo-o-o!- she shouts back, stamping her little foot.
I keep reassuring myself that since I managed to train a Rottweiler, I surely should be able to train a little girl. But some days, I despair. I still am (a little) judgmental in some extreme cases of particularly badly behaved kids, but I do understand now just how hard this game can be.
PS I dedicate this posting to a good friend, who is about to have twins. I hope her parents share some Chinese parenting wisdom with her, because personally, I would no recommend the current western practices.
Oh, and I just can't draw children, can I? This one looks like it might be a husband having a tantrum on the shop floor, whereas it is meant to be a toddler.